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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

I saw Edinson Volquez pitch as a member of the Reds in 2008, the year he won 17 games for Cincinnati. I was actually scoring the game for MLB.com, and Volquez made an impression upon me like two other young pitchers for whom I tracked every pitch. Johnny Cueto and Nathan Eovaldi were the other two, and the three had the most electric stuff I have ever seen in young arms.

As a result, it has been sort of disappointing, not that any of these guys has been bad; I just imagined Chris Sale-like totals from at least one of the troika. In fact, Cueto has been pretty good, Eovaldi has had flashes, but after 2008, Volquez switched from power pitching to nibbling corners, resurrecting himself into off-speed success in 2014. In fact, he was good enough for me to exploit that year and the next in deeper roto leagues, but last year I had to let go, with no thought of rostering under any circumstances this year. 

A lot of ESPN players were with me as Volquez is only owned in 26% of their leagues, and was acquired in 21.7% during the last week, after the Marlin tossed a no-no earlier in the week. Amazingly, Volquez rewarded his new owners with a second straight great start. In fact, Volquez has allowed just one run over his last 21 innings.

The real focus here is that a 33-year-old pitcher, on an iffy team, who has tried to reinvent himself, was just so in the zone on June 3 that none of the D-backs could hit him. And, for a wonderful nine innings, Volquez was among the best pitchers ever. 

Let's cut to last Tuesday, to the Reds, a team not unlike the Fish in that they have a lot of good and interesting young players, but are still in the process of defining themselves. Well, whatever else be said, 27-year-old journeyman/utilityman Scooter Gennett, with a career .281-42-191 line, had arguably the greatest single day at the plate, hitting four homers, driving in 10, and accounting for 17 total bases. 

Of all 17--six in the AL, and 11 in the NL--players who have hit four dingers in a single game, Gennett is the only one to have double-digit RBI, suggesting his day beat four-homer games by Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, Ed Delahanty, Lou Gehrig and Chuck Klein, all Hall of Famers. But, it is not like some of the other guys who banged four big flies were slouches, for names like Bob Horner, Shawn Green, Gil Hodges, and Rocky Colavito also grace the list.

Like Pat Seerey, who hit four in a game in 1948 but only managed 86 for his career, or Bobby Lowe, who hit four in an 1894 game and totaled 71, though we do have to acknowledge he played in the dead ball era, Gennett is no more a star than is Volquez.

That, however, is one of the things that makes baseball so beautiful in my view, for guys like Volquez or Gennett can indeed rise to the occassion on a given day and turn in some eye-dropping numbers.

In my own time of witnessing the inexplicable, I scored Dallas Braden's perfect game, and witnessed Jose Jimenez' no-no, as well as the bizarre combined no-no Bob Milacki tossed, augmented by Marc Williamson, Greg Olsen and Mike Flanagan (Milacki was hit in the arm with a liner and had to leave the game).

In St. Louis a few years back, I saw Ryan Klesko hit two homers, coupled with a pair of doubles that banged off the center field wall at old Busch Stadium, finishing his day's work with a single on a day that with a little wind, Klesko might have made Gennett the 18th guy.

That means I have memories of those great moments from "lesser" players just like I saw Willie McCovey's final hit (a double off the wall at the old Stick), Ken Griffey Jr.'s first hit (also a double, off the Coliseum wall and Dave Stewart), along with Rickey Henderson setting the all-time base stealing record.

The beauty of baseball is that in my mental memory chest, all these performances swirl together, enhancing the wonder and magic of a game that is beautiful to watch, easy to understand, and impossible to figure out.

If you hate this, Tweet me: If you love it, Tweet me too @lawrmichaels.

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